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VN app market needs to stay on its toes: experts

Viet Nam’s much vaunted digital access and advantages that arise from it could run out of steam unless it is renewed and made more substantial, experts say.

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Shoppers test out different mobile devices at a Viettel store on Ngoc Khanh Street, Ha Noi.

The majority of Vietnamese mobile users are becoming more and more active in accessing digital content on the mobile platform, and the country is seen as a rising star in the Southeast Asian and Asia-Pacific mobile applications market.

However, some tech experts are unsure that this trend can be maintained.

Tran Khanh, legal representive and Director of Ha Noi-based tech company TOPS International Jsc., told Viet Nam News that Vietnamese people like new technology and conveniences, and therefore, both young and old generations are hooked on their smartphones.

Late last month, the Facebook Official Gaming Agency in Viet Nam, Adsota, released its 2017 report on the country’s mobile advertising market and monetisation of apps.

Extracting from Google’s statistics, the report said that each Vietnamese mobile phone user downloads and installs five new applications a month, mainly games, social apps, and music players.

The number of new apps installed per person per month was impressive, ranking second in Southeast Asia and seventh in the world, the report said.

It foresaw a future boom of mobile applications on both Android and iOS platforms.

Khanh said he was certain that Vietnamese people, as in any other country, would spend more money on better mobile applications for legitimate use and purposes, especially when the free versions do not meet their demand.

Logically, in the near future, poor quality applications will be eliminated via market competition or by Google and Apple themselves, he said.

According to another 2017 report by Appota Corporation (Appota), a Vietnamese mobile apps service provider, the country’s smartphone app usage increased by 21 per cent year-on-year.

Their data also showed a high number of smartphone users in Viet Nam, reaching 85 per cent of the population in urban areas and 68 per cent in rural areas.

The downside

However, both reports also showed that Viet Nam was one of the countries with the highest uninstallation rates in the world.

Out of the total number of applications installed on Vietnamese smartphones, up to 15 per cent were never used and about 13 per cent were just used several times before they became obsolete.

Nguyen Khoa Hong Thanh, cofounder and managing director of Isobar Vietnam, a consulting and digital marketing agency in HCM City, told Viet Nam News that most people prefer well known and free mobile apps for communication and entertainment, like Facebook, YouTube or Viet Nam’s own Zalo.

Therefore, the unused and frequently uninstalled apps are mostly lesser known ones that are heavily dependent on running advertisements, with less emphasis on building quality and branding.

Therefore, Thanh said, the Vietnamese mobile application market still presented many opportunities and challenges, because only mobile apps of good quality, versatility and easy access can succeed.

While agreeing with Thanh, Khanh also expressed some caution about the Vietnamese mobile market’s future.

“Despite the growing numbers, the country’s mobile application market is almost at its saturation point, as too many apps have been out on the stores over the past five years,” Khanh said.

Noting that quite a few Vietnamese tech startups are looking to generate different kinds of mobile apps, even going into virtual reality and artificial intelligence, he said it was possible that successes like Nguyen Ha Dong’s 2013 hit, "Flappy Bird," can still happen.

Whether they can sustain the success and not die a premature death is another story, he added.

Nguyen Tuan Cuong, cofounder of Amanotes Jsc., said at the Vietnam Web Summit held in Ha Noi last month that campaigns and offers that sought to push down the top apps were many, so competition was fierce.

He said mobile app advertisers and marketers should focus on improving product quality and user experience, rather than try to maximise returns on investment and advertising through “illicit means.” This is important if they want to retain user numbers, extend the lifecycle of their mobile apps and increase revenues, he added.

The two reports listed above also mentioned the growing trend of mobile commerce and shopping apps, most popular among people aged 18 to 25 in major urban areas like Ha Noi and HCM City.

Shopee was 2017’s fastest growing mobile commerce app with around 10 million users, followed by Sendo and Tiki. 

Source: VietNamNet

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